Tag Archives: rules

I Don’t Follow the Rules

My boss’ gentle reminder to love people was just the start of many, many indications that I have a problem. After that conversation, symptoms started showing up everywhere—other people would talk about their struggles with the same issue, a pastor would preach about it, someone even sent me a book about it (more about that in my next post!).

I’ve learned that when God wants me to work on something, this is exactly how He gets my attention—He sends me the same message a thousand different ways until I notice the pattern and start to do something about it.

When I was praying about it, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to read what Romans says about grace and the law. I’ve read it a million times in hopes that I might figure out the mysterious and complicated relationship between God’s law and grace. I even took an entire class on the book of Romans in college.

Here are a few things I wrote in my journal after that reading:

“God, You’re challenging me to value people more than rules. You love them whether they follow the rules or not, and I should too. Why is it so hard to do? I like it when people follow the rules. I know what to expect. It gives me some control over the situation.”

Yikes. There’s that word: control. That’s another thing I struggle with.

“How do I love them? How do You?”

I really wanted God to tell me. I obviously had no clue.

“You love me even when I’m mean and manipulative. Even when I’m lazy and controlling and micromanaging. When I’m forgetful. When I’m petty. When I’m selfish. When I’m judgmental. When I’m wrong. Even when I’m ugly. Even when I’m fat.”

(Ugly and fat have more to do with my self-esteem issues, but that’s anther discussion entirely.)

“The law is useful for many things, but it’s not where my salvation comes from. And that’s how I’m supposed to love other people, too.

“It’s like Jesus’ death and resurrection and my salvation are God’s way of saying, ‘Hey, she’s not perfect, but I want her here anyway. I love working with her and she adds value to our team. I don’t expect her to get it right every time, but I trust her. I know who she is and what she stands for because she’s Mine. And that covers a multitude of mistakes.'”

When I realized God gives me the same kind of grace I try to give my coworkers, it became a lot easier to understand why and how to love people who don’t follow the rules.

Because I don’t follow the rules.

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin (Romans 4:7–8).

Even if we’re smart, even if we’re hard workers, even if we do everything right, we have God’s favor because of our relationship with Him. Following the rules is just icing on the cake. And it makes it a whole lot easier for Him to use us and convince others to work with us.

We don’t get God’s blessings because we follow the rules. We get them because He loves us.

People Matter (more than rules)

At my last job review, my boss reminded me that my job is ministry and I need to remember that when dealing with people. He was absolutely right. It’s something I forget, especially with the behind-the-scenes nature of my job.

After lots of thinking and praying about that conversation, I’ve realized something about myself: I love people . . . but only when they follow the rules.

I’ve been a rule-follower my whole life. Maybe it’s because I’m a first-born. Maybe it’s my personality. Maybe it’s because I don’t like conflict. Whatever the reasons, I’ve always been afraid of breaking the rules. So I’m excellent at following directions. And I’m great at doing everything someone asks for and more. But when other people don’t do that, I just can’t handle it.

Not long ago, a few people from our church needed my help to put an event together. It was on short notice and they had a lot of requests for things that should have been taken care of much, much sooner. It meant that I had to ask other departments for favors and apologize for lateness that wasn’t my fault. I didn’t like how it was making me look; I’d worked so hard to redeem the reputation of the youth department! Rather than suck it up and do everything I could to help, I got angry. I was less than helpful, complained a ton, and let everyone within earshot know that it was not my fault. I even sent an email to the organizers outlining every “rule” they were breaking and why I was having so much trouble pulling things together for them. Now, it wasn’t worded quite that harshly, but it’s not an email I’m proud of. (This ordeal may or may not have been the reason I got that bit of constructive criticism in my job review.)

Unfortunately, this is not the only example. I get irritated with people who don’t follow the rules of the road, grammar, and etiquette. And at the bowling alley . . . if I’m in the lane next to you and you throw your ball while I’m standing on the approach, you can bet I’m going to be super irritated. (Perhaps this is just me–my high school bowling team days were serious business.)

I’m not usually loud about my anger and frustration. In fact, I tend to be pretty passive aggressive about it—I’ll tell everyone but you that I’m annoyed. My heart is SO in the wrong place.

But God seems to be putting in overtime to teach me what seems like such a simple lesson: People matter (more than rules).

Check back later this week—I’m going to post some of the ways God has been teaching me that lesson.